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SERIES—List & Discussions > Miles Vorkosigan--BARRAYAR - Piotr *spoilers*

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message 1: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
What did you think of Piotr (Aral's father)? I thought he was such a fascinating character.


message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) He reminded me of a lot of old, stiff necked men I've known.


message 3: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3329 comments Mod
He could be so warm and charming and then be such a rigid, prejudiced jerk--I was frustrated every time Cordelia had to deal with him. Of course, at the end of the book, with 5 year old Miles, he is starting to unbend.

Aral had to re-examine his own prejudices and overcome some pretty stiff indoctrination about disabilities. I think his experience and relationship Kou helped him rethink his attitudes.


message 4: by Random (last edited Jul 21, 2009 08:08PM) (new)

Random (rand0m1s) | 877 comments Piotr was very much a product of his generation and environment. Barrayar was low tech and low resources (the planet is still not completely terraformed) and in many ways backwards in their society, partially I suspect due to lack of resources. They have relatively recently re-entered galactic civilization.

The planet and its people had been ravaged by two long invasions from the far superior Cetaganda. Mutation was an important factor on a low tech, backwater, low resource planet. Add Cetaganda nuking them til they glowed and their fondness for genetic manipulation, it is no wonder there is fear of mutants. Remember, in this time it is still accepted behavior for people to kill their children at birth if they have any visible mutations, no matter how minor. Pity we're not reading Borders of Infinity. The short story "Mountains of Mourning" shows the real impact of this mindset and it is down right heart breaking.

Piotr became a General at the age of 22 during the second Cetaganda war. His wife was murdered on the first day of Mad Yuri's War when death squads massacred descendants of Prince Xav. Aral and his cousin Padma Vorpatril were the only survivors. Aral was age 11 when his mother and older brother were murdered in front of his eyes for nothing more than political gain.

Piotr spent a very significant portion of his young and adult life fighting for his life, his family, his district, and, above and beyond all of those, always for his Emperor.

Is he a hard ass? Absolutely. He's been forged on the anvil of bloodshed and war. The man has sacrificed and suffered more than any of us could even imagine. Not for his own personal gain, but for his world and his Emperor. Always for the Emperor.

Piotr's prejudices are no worse then any others on that world. As Cordelia said, Barrayar eats it's children, including Piotr himself.

I morn for the man. But, more importantly, I morn for who he may have been but was not allowed to be.


message 5: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Random - the story "Mountains of Mourning" is also included in the "Young Miles" omnibus, so I'm sure many people will read it anyway.

I think you hit it right on the head saying he is a product of his generation and his environment. His prejudices are part of who he is. I thought he showed a very different side of himself when he is running with Cordelia, Gregor and Bothari, and when he is interacting with the Major.

I also thought the fights/conversations between Piotr and Cordelia, and Piotr and Aral, were some of the best parts of this novel.


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I don't mourn for Piotr or who he could have been. I think he turned out just fine. Sure he was tough & prejudiced against Miles, but he managed to overcome it. Yeah, Cordelia had to slap him down, but no one is perfect. His character added a lot of realistic character depth to the novels. Typical family tensions in many ways.

I think he was great for Miles, too. Without his attitude & that of his friends, Miles never would have handled many situations as well, especially those in "The Mountains of Mourning".


message 7: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3329 comments Mod
Having only read Shards and Barrayar, the backstory on Piotr was not that clear to me. Yes, the backstory is told, but not in the kind of detail that really shows how characters and attitudes develop.


message 8: by DivaDiane (new)

DivaDiane | 178 comments I'm with you Kathi. I expect we'll gain a better understanding for Piotr in the Warrior's Apprentice. I just found him, especially as Barrayar progressed, to be an insufferable ass, who refused to look at the situation differently. That said, my own father is like that, and I still love him, so there you go.

As for Mountains of Mourning, it's available online for free (from the Baen free library), so we could consider including it in our reading list. Just do a Google search for Mountains of Mourning and click on the Baen Library link.



message 9: by Random (last edited Jul 23, 2009 07:37PM) (new)

Random (rand0m1s) | 877 comments Stefan wrote: "I think you hit it right on the head saying he is a product of his generation and his environment. His prejudices are part of who he is. I thought he showed a very different side of himself when he is running with Cordelia, Gregor and Bothari, and when he is interacting with the Major."

I think its another fine example of Bujold treating everyone as people with their own strengths and weaknesses. It is an aspect if her writing I really enjoy.

As far as learning more details about Piotr's life in later books....no, not really. 99% of the details I gave in my previous post came right out of Barrayar. I think a minor bit dealing with the Cetagandan invasions came from other books, but nothing of any detail.

I'm glad Mountains of Mourning is available for people. I really recommend reading it at some point between The Warrior's Apprentice and Memory.

-- Edited. Had listed The Vor Game instead of The Warrior's Apprentice


message 10: by William (new)

William (williamjm) I thought he a very believable character, and an interesting character to read. His stubbornness and prejudices mean that he isn't always a likeable character, but I think both traits make sense given his background.

He also serves a useful purpose in the story, to bring Cordelia into contact with a traditional Barrayan viewpoint - Aral is hardly a typical Barrayan.


message 11: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (sisimka) Well said, William, you pretty much summed up my view of Piotr - and why I actually liked him as a character, even when he was being frustrating.

His was a point of view, that even though I didn't share, I at least understood.


message 12: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3329 comments Mod
I agree that Piotr added to the story and allowed for comparisons of ideas. He allowed Bujold to explore the formation and application of stereotypes as well as the interplay of parent and offspring. I didn't like him, but he was important to the story. (Actually, there were times in the story that I DID like him, but then he would say or do something and I'd be frustrated with him again!)


message 13: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments I saw Piotr as the axe that defined Aral's final loyalties and formed his firmed stance for change.

Without that family opposition setting Cordelia's views into such sharp relief, Aral may not have become as committed to the changes to Barrayaran society.

He was forced to choose between Piotr's views and the old ways, or side with his wife. Without the defining moment of taking sides with Cordelia, the regency may have had quite a different impact.

The statement made, when Cordelia's loyalty won out, was as good as a public platform - any of Aral's enemies would realize there was not going to be footing for compromise since the family loyalty was demonstrably split, toward the progressive view.


message 14: by Random (new)

Random (rand0m1s) | 877 comments I was reading Mountains of Mournings today and I ran across a section that did a better job of describing Piotr than I managed to do.

He was born at the very end of the Time of Isolation, and lived through every wrenching change this century has dealt to Barrayar. He was called the last of the Old Vor, but really, he was the first of the new. He changed with the times, from the tactics of horse cavalry to that of flyer squadrons, from swords to atomics, and he changed successfully. Our present freedom from the Cetagandan occupation is a measure of how fiercely he could adapt, then throw it all away and adapt again. At the end of his life he was called a conservative, only because so much of Barrayar had streamed past him in the direction he had led, prodded, pushed, and pointed all his life.

He changed, and adapted, and bent with the wind of the times. Then, in his age — for my father was his youngest and sole surviving son, and did not himself marry till middle age — in his age, he was hit with me. And he had to change again. And he couldn't.



message 15: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (last edited Aug 10, 2009 09:22AM) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Absolutely perfect, Random. Thanks for posting this.

One week to go till The Warrior's Apprentice! I hope the folks who didn't join the discussion yet, or gave up after Shards of Honour, will pick this one up, because IMO this is the point where the series goes from good to great.


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